Last week a federal judge in Austin, Texas denied a motion brought by angry dog breeders to block the state’s new puppy mill law, which will require licensing and inspections for certain breeders.
“Texas is one of the top ten puppy mill states in the country and this law is an important first step in cleaning up this inhumane industry,” said Katie Jarl, Texas state director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). “The plaintiffs and their cohorts don’t want there to be any standards for the responsible care of dogs in commercial breeding facilities, and that’s just not acceptable to Texas pet owners who want to protect dogs from cruelty and abuse.”
The new law, the Dog and Cat Breeders Act, otherwise known as the Texas Puppy Mill Bill, was authored by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and went into effect on September 1. The new law will require breeders to register with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation if they have 11 or more breeding females or sell 20 or more puppies or kittens during a 12-month period. Under these regulations breeders will also have to submit to an onsite inspection before they are able to get a license.
Last October, the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance, which represents 305 American Kennel Club groups in the state, and three breeders filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas and Frank Denton, Chairman of Commissioners of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations, in an attempt to get the new law declared unconstitutional and invalid.
The group argued that the law is too vague and is actually an attempt to ban breeding altogether. The group also opposed warrantless searches of breeders’ properties, different regulations for different breeds, the denial of licenses without the possibility of appeal and the fact that breeders will have to submit to and pass a criminal background check.
Animal advocates, on the other hand, believe this new law will help shut down inhumane breeders, in addition to removing competition for breeders who do place a priority on the health and well-being of their dogs.
The HSUS and Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) filed an amicus brief asking the court to uphold the law, which was also supported by the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Fortunately, the court agreed and found the law within the state legislature to enforce. U.S. District Judge James R. Nowlin found that opponents of the new law met none of the four burdens necessary to receive relief and signed the order last Thursday after a hearing, according to the Star Telegram.
“The Licensed Breeders Act establishes very basic standards for breeders in Texas – humane housing, annual veterinary care, and daily exercise to name a few,” said Yolanda Eisenstein, president for THLN. “These standards have been in the federal Animal Welfare Act for years, so they should be nothing new to most breeders. It is tragic that any breeder would oppose providing such minimal care for their animals.”
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